A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Tag Archives: self care

What To Do with a Day?

Little Man’s behavior…around me, at least…has become phenomenally better over the past several weeks. He’s three-and-a-half now. Maybe that can account for it? I can’t say for sure, but it’s lovely…at least until Daddy arrives. At that point, he’s excited and all bets are off. Some Wednesdays ago I wasn’t able to think of a decent activity plan. I was simply drained. I decided we would stay home for the day, which I never do. I went into it thinking it would be such madness because my son is so much more difficult to manage when I keep him in. I fought through copious guilt, and determined Mr. Man would be vegging out in front of the television all day, so I could be left alone…to grieve…exercise…for some quiet…whatever.

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(Obviously, Interesly also enjoys vegging out in front of a television all day.)

Eighteen-month-old Warrior Queen still takes two substantially long naps, so my planning consisted of calculating my time to be left alone.

I’d prepared in the most absurd way. I asked several friends for permission to even consider this agenda.

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(Without a doubt Colourbox understands a day of television requires copious amounts of planning and color-coded, alphabetized spreadsheets…)

I begrudgedly accept that my son watches about two hours of brain rotting television nightly. It’s a compromise that I don’t want to get into, but it bothers me. It’s the only media he encounters. My phone is not for his use, nor is the computer. He doesn’t play games or tinker with fancy apps.

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(Are Big Bad Baseball and I the only ones worrying about the effects of too much Puppy Dog Pals, PJ Masks…or whatever other stupid ass shows that are peddled to my son when I’d rather watch the news?)

I’m extraordinarily cautious about media exposure. People come up with all sorts of rationalizations and excuses, but the fact of the matter is that technology and devices impact brain functioning at all ages, particularly in the arena of social skills and empathy. It’s strange because there isn’t a lot of direct acknowledgment of these two key social issues. Almost all of the documentation focuses on every other conceivable skill, yet ignores the way in which we exist as social creatures. At best there are rumblings about social media exposure and texting for adolescents, but so much of our learned behavior in the world begins at the sponge stage.

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(I guess Care.com also heard that referring to small children as sponges is associated to their perseveration on toilets.)

This is not to say that I am emphatically anti-technology. It’s a tool, and a marvelous one. But, it’s just that, a tool. It is not a replacement for engaging with others or forgoing the commitment of the often irritating and tiresome process of teaching offspring to be reasonable people in public. Admittedly, my kids are very young. Who’s to say? Maybe they will grow to be total twatwaddles under my parentage, but I can’t imagine cultivating my style exclusively around the functions and interventions of media will swoop in and save the day in the event my kids are a consistent embarrassment when they are definitely old enough to know better.

I probably think too much about this singular issue. It isn’t out of nowhere. I’ve spoken of my concern that my children will inherit my brain. Consequently, it is a concentrated focus of mine to ensure they have a background knowledge and general reserve of strategies for social navigation and situation comprehension. As is, if they have my brain both will be in an unavoidable quagmire of struggle. It’s gut wrenching to consider, so I try not to think of its impact. But, it’s important to me…as their primary caregiver…that I teach them whatever strategies I can to counteract as much as possible. I don’t believe in the fool’s errand of striving to ensure my children are happy. I have no control over such a thing, and part of life is about learning how to navigate the unhappy times; that also begins in early childhood. My role as parent isn’t the happy-maker; it’s teacher and home…and ass-wiping aficionado.

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(Sketch Club captured how ripped my arms have become wrestling Warrior Queen into the car seat she suddenly started abhorring a month ago.)

Circling back to planning for what should be a typical Wednesday…untypically at home. I managed to give myself the permission I needed as personal self-preservation…It’s been a colossally shitty six-months with devastatingly insignificant amount of time to myself. I was all prepared…talked myself through the day…what would happen and when. The three of us played together in the morning; the two surprisingly entertaining themselves to an unexpected degree. A smooth transition to Warrior Queen’s morning nap; Little Man was looking through some books, and continued without distraction when I returned downstairs. I decided to leave him undisturbed, and take care of some emails for my volunteering gig. I managed the entire list of correspondence; no concerning noises from the other room. Mr. Man was playing, not asking about the television. I carried on with my stuff, even managing to do a bit more exercise. I actually couldn’t believe he left me alone to do it. He usually insists on annoying me throughout my entire routine until I give-up and tend to whatever issue he forgets as soon as I’m available.

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(XDA Developers get that EVERYTHING is imperative to Little Man provided I’m busy doing something else.)

I kept waiting for Little Man to ask to watch the favorite boob tube, but he didn’t. He entertained himself all day, even when Warrior Queen rejoined the festivities. I couldn’t believe what an easy day it was…without cartoons or inquiry of any kind. As the day wrapped I was feeling pretty good as a parent. I’ve learned to take these wins as they come without questioning or second guessing.

A couple weeks later a similar predicament. I assumed I wouldn’t be as lucky, but figured I had television time bank. Warrior Queen went for her snooze, but my son didn’t immediately inquire about the television. He wanted stories, so I read to him snuggled on the sofa for about 45 minutes before I needed a break. He tinkered for a few then asked for cartoons. I don’t know if I fully thought out how much he would watch that day; I guess it was a play by ear kind of thing, even if I didn’t want to admit it. Such an approach wreaks havoc on my anxiety and general rigidity with routines, but I’ve simply been shit at organizing these kinds of things lately.

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(Sure, no probs…I can totally go with the flow…easy peasy lemon squeezy…)

Mr. Man ended up viewing an hour longer than I’d hoped. I’d watched the minutes tick away as I was discussing the creative writing program I designed with a colleague of sorts. It was an important conversation for me to have, and it wouldn’t have been possible that day without my son distracted. Fifteen or so minutes, sure. But, and hour-and-a-half conversation was an impossibility. As it went Warrior Queen was becoming challenging to manage for the last thirty minutes of the discussion.

For the longest time I spent my parenting time finding patterns and consistent interventions. Now that my daughter is more of a little person every day, consistent pattern pursuits is just one more fool’s errand to forgo. Some semblance of routines and procedures are definitely important, but at this point I have a whole range of interventions in my mind’s catalogue for just about every growing moment of my children’s lives. I can feel my brain’s plasticity as I do whatever works in any given moment before moving onto the next moment.

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(Pinterest concurs; I’m a BOSS!)

Part of what works in my life’s bigger picture is seizing moments that give me feelings of some kind of positive boost…usually unrelated to parenting. I consider it a momentum thing where the result encompasses everything else in my world, particularly how I interface with my children. That was this phone call.

I’ve come to understand that our Department of Corrections doesn’t value creative writing programs…not as a platform of self expression with no direct career implications anyway. There might be some literature attesting to the value of writing, but doubtful there is anything conclusively praising its prevention of recidivism. And, when resources are tight, results matter. I get it. I don’t like implementing squishy things, but anecdotally I know writing to be a tremendous benefit and outlet, even if I don’t have the concrete data of a study to support it. I was told that various individuals have been trying for twenty years to reinstate a creative writing program to no avail…until mine was approved…the one I ran at our maximum facility this summer. So, a local and prestigious university is running my program this term. I’m still not entirely clear how such a thing came to fruition, but it’s pretty groovy…humbling…unexpected. I’m a stay-at-home mom who toils in stolen minutes with things important to me. I rarely talk with peers, even more rarely do I meet with anyone pertaining to something within a professional realm. I have my passions, and I strive to make a difference; but in this field I’m often blind to my impact. I just do my thing, but surprisingly often over the past year I’m dumbstruck by feedback of some marvel of a task I accomplished.

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(Desktop Nexus Nature never envisioned its role in my time occupations when I’ve had a good day.)

The conversation I had this day was with the individual teaching my creative writing program through the university, updating me and strategizing…comparing notes from my class over the summer at the same facility. We are in the beginning stages of developing a systemic writing program that will eventually join with a larger national writing group with ambitions to extend their reach in our corrections system.

I’m grand at dismissing and minimizing my accomplishments. This program is no different. I always assume that anyone can do what I do…anyone can create what I can…anyone can achieve the results I do. Often I question the results themselves. It’s rare I get a clear window into the quality of my skill in any given capacity. Even these months later I’d been feeling insecure about how my class ran over the summer. I’ve received feedback that the class was a great success, but I’ve had a significant amount of difficulty believing…or accepting such notions. Intellectually I kinda get the way things went down; the issues out of my control and the barriers to teaching…intervening with incarcerated populations. But, I perpetually strive to do better. Unfortunately, my time is not my own so I likely will not have an opportunity to be better until the spring or summer of next year. It’s painfully long to try out the interventions I’m considering. But, this small moment that I needed in the midst of a horrible six-month period when my threenager watched too much television…my toddler toddled around while I mostly ignored her…I could tend to myself. I seized an opportunity to give myself a needed boost that I certainly deserve if for no other reason than I am a human in this world tramping along like anyone else.

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(Toddler was left to her own devices, but totally worth it, right Encounters with Cinema?)

I can’t say that things are consistently easier at the moment, but I have something important to smile about and focus on when another wave of sadness hits or I feel my control slipping. In the days following the phone call, I had a little more patience with my son…much of the time. I was little more interested in the snuggles Warrior Queen provides. I’m a believer in moderation in just about everything. I’m a believer in experiencing moments. I’m a believer in connecting to people in real time. I’m a believer in most of our learning is not through images on a screen. But, these days I’m focusing on the belief that at some point something has to give, and a rare day of wasted time can yield future moments that aren’t.

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Love Above All…another year of gratitude

It’s been a heavy…long time. I’ve started a bit of a tradition with this blog. Around this time I create a post of gratitude. I have to say I kinda enjoy it, and look forward to this post as it approaches. I’ve read stuff periodically about the benefits of having gratitude during the more grueling times in life. It’s a double-edged sword for me. On the one hand it can be helpful to focus on the very good things in my life. On the other I use it as a justification for why I shouldn’t or have no right to feel miserable at the time. But, now is not the moment to focus on one more part of my lengthy list of shtick.

I’m grateful to know love…to experience it in its many forms…the love of and for my friends…the love of and for my husband, but mostly the love surrounding my children. I don’t love easily. It’s something I’d never wanted to risk confronting, but I’ve had key people in my life, especially relatively recently, who have allowed me to slowly release the excruciatingly tight fist of this sentiment. And, then there are my children.

When Little Man was born I was struck fairly early on with the profound realization that he was nothing but a being of love. It was pretty much all he knew, and I’d never experienced anything like that…to have someone look at me the way he did. So many things are learned, but our capacity to love…for love…is innate. I’d lost that somewhere; who knows where. But, in those early, immediate moments I was determined to preserve this capacity in him as long as I could…Warrior Queen too, as the equivalent level of love stretched blatantly across her delicate features within a similar initial timeframe as her brother. Ultimately these types of things mean that I must model how I want my children to interact with and receive the world. It’s been a beautiful lesson.

Some of my most wonderful…unexpected moments for me in this process of raising children are the unabashed snuggles I can give them. Part of my commitment to Little Man and Warrior Queen was to always demonstrate the depth of my love and appreciation for them. Something like that isn’t such a leap. I’ve lost important people in my life through some means or another. The first never knew how I felt about him, and it’s probably my life’s greatest regret. I can attempt to repair…or at least resolve a burned bridge. Death is finite, so I have to carry everything I’ve never said for the duration of my flitting over life’s terrain. My husband never escapes a day when I haven’t told him how much I love him…how much I appreciate who he is and his role in my life. These things have become a compulsion of sorts. I tell my kids I love them regularly, especially when there have been a plethora of redirections and yelling in a designated time span. But, mostly I opt for a constant stream of squeezes and smooches. I can’t hold them close enough…hug them long enough, and I’m so grateful for that feeling.

But, the other night while I cuddled with my son for the three minutes before tucking him in…hopefully…for the night; I lamented that I will miss the soon approaching days when he will no longer climb all over me with every effort to crawl back into my uterus. Both my children are so affectionate and snuggly almost every waking minute of their lives. They will play independently for a span, but then gravitate toward my person in some wonderful fashion, and I can only want each minute to extend for an eternity…even if I have to pee or my lunch is solidifying into a chilled mass on the counter. It’s all worth it because these days will soon fall from their grace. I’d never thought I’d be that person. Most of the time I don’t like people touching me…like to comedic proportions.

I’m grateful for so many things…or at least I try to be. I’m grateful for these simple black dresses I’ve found that allow me to feel as though there was some effort placed into my appearance. In that same vein, I’m thankful for hair pins because I can’t be bothered to figure out how to pull my hair into a ponytail that doesn’t look like a disaster. Maybe it’s because my hair is really too short…maybe I’m just a hot mess with this task to the point that experiencing a seizure in the process of hair fixing would help the situation. Hair pins are quite forgiving and give the illusion of a stylish updo, especially for a curly mop such as mine. I should add flannel shirts to this particular list. If I didn’t have those colors and patterns, then I’d look as though I was in a constant state of attending funerals.

Stupidly immature patterned socks are also a marvel of child sweat shops the world over. Hard to be in a bad mood when one’s feet are adorned with hotdogs or dinosaurs. I recently purchased socks with alternating chicks and fried eggs, which is actually pretty morbid; but part of me can’t wait until those make an appearance. I’ve decided to save those for a drastically shitty kind of day. I’m grateful that day has not dawned.

Tea and dark chocolate earn their permanent nod as up at the tippy top of any list consisting of wonders that make the universe right, but maybe cookies deserve the very same placement? It’s hard to say because I’ve never really met truly bad chocolate. Sure, some I like better than others, but I can’t say I’ve met a bar or truffle I’d kick out of bed. Cookies, however, are a different matter. Some of them taste like absolute garbage. Have I ever not finished a cookie? Of course not, I’m not an animal. But, lousy cookies leave an air of disappointment long after its remains shuffle off this mortal coil. I’m not grateful for that. Good cookies? I think we can all agree there is a special place in the heavens for their creators. I’m not a believer…but an exquisite cookie can almost make me trust in a higher power.

I’m grateful for the uptick in civil action…activism…investment in preserving the best in society…the best in us…community that exists even behind anonymous screens. So much of the time I’m alone during the day…maybe lonely in need of the bare minimum of human connection when the days and weeks blur together in a swirl of, “what just happened?”…staying home with wee ones can do that. Social media is a wonder of like-minded people who are also new to political involvement. I’m too old for the inspiration of far distant figures to motivate me in any particular way, but the flood of the everywoman is something so awesome in its magnitude. We aren’t happy with…things, so we strangers who will never meet band together to do our small things, and accomplish the impossible amidst a sturdy collection of naysayers. I’m grateful to feel so powerful even on those days when nothing else is done beyond a call to Congress or a typed notion of support to an unknown, discouraged peer. In those moments I matter outside myself, and I’m thankful to feel that…to force myself at all times to matter in the smallest of ways outside myself. I’m grateful for sprawling spaces in comment sections of like-minded people. I’m inspired by the number of ordinary women leading ordinary lives, and changing things in not so ordinary ways.

I’m grateful for so many of the opportunities I’m afforded…that I worked damn hard for, and finally materializing into fruition. I’m thankful for my voice; I’m thankful others find it valuable enough to dedicate sparse moments in a flustering life. I’m grateful for progress…always progress, but at its very core; love…in its many forms and expressions.

Needs Met

I received an unexpected call from a good friend. We haven’t caught up in ages. I think it’s the mark of middle-aged friendships that there is a basic understanding you will not speak for excessive amounts of time, but the conversations begin as though no time elapsed. It was a brief call; in transit. I gave her the thumbnails of events in the last six months, and found myself apologizing for their depressing, edged nature. I like telling jokes; I don’t like complaining…I suppose with humor it can be one of the same.

But, the morning was a reprieve from the draining monotony of my dreary, racing thoughts at times. Overall my life is a good one, but I’m definitively nursing some internal wounds at the moment. The week like the last one push me to concur the healthful benefits of community. I have a collection of wonderful people in my life; I’d certainly be lost without them. This morning, however, was a different sort of reprieve that gave me respite from the diverse waves of bombarding negative thoughts.

It was a beautiful morning, simultaneously cool and warm. My husband and I took the children to a local park. Mr. Man used a regular swing for the first time. It took some prodding, but he was giddy with excitement as I pushed him as high as I could muster. Warrior Queen has a death wish rooted in daring oblivion; Little Man almost punted his sister across the wood chipped enclosure as he swooped forward. I snatched the chain, jerking my son off the seat. He clung onto the swing drifting back toward me.

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(That’s actually the expression he gave me, and it was probably wrong for me to laugh.)

Warrior Queen wandered off in her typical drunken gorilla posture to interfere in the amusing activities of another unsuspecting child.

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(How did Daily Mail get a picture of Warrior Queen noticing that I opened the pantry door?!?)

Little Man is of the age where a parent realizes he can climb up…things…tall things, yet fears the windy swoop down. Eventually he determines he will not be owned by a staticy expanse of smooth green plastic, and takes the risk. I admire his bravery in all things. For Warrior Queen’s part, she enjoyed the softer slope of her own slide, even as fatigue began to take over. On her belly and smiling, she would lay her head upstream momentarily before requesting that I boost her up once again.

My husband and I had the rare moment to sit on a bench in the enclosure; both children momentarily independent. There were no great disclosures or profound remarks, it was just peaceful and comfortably warm for my soul to sit with him and laugh about absolutely nothing worth remembering. I suppose those are the most nurturing moments after almost a decade-and-a-half commitment.

I’d like to say this simple trip to a playground on a perfect autumn day is enough to compensate for the entirety of my struggles, but fortunately I encounter enough quantity to make a dent.

Less Than Perfect, but Close Enough

It wasn’t a perfect day, but it was a good one. The little lady woke earlier than she had been, so while I was unhappy to slog my unrested body out of bed, I was able to enjoy guaranteed Warrior Queen giggles as I speckled her neck with a light dusting of kisses. Even waking grumpily, she will laugh. She simply cannot help herself, and I absolutely love it. She does a couple of new things these days, like climbing…on EVERYTHING, particularly the kitchen table. She finally figured out how to move chairs to her liking to complete her table top cabaret. Her screams when I prevent her from pulling out a pushed in chair confirms that Mommy is the soul crushing dream killer I’d been hoping to become for years.

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(“I told Pinterest I didn’t need this gig to get through college, but I’m just SO good at it!”)

But, Warrior Queen also cuddles on my lap, leaning against me, arching her back periodically to look me in the eye smiling. She carries me books telling me, “READ!” My fierce girl also plays. Over her quiet breakfast she scowled at me, furrowed brow and all. I imitated the expression; we held it in mutual determination for a few seconds before Warrior Queen broke into her tell tale toothy smile that consumes her entire face. I absolutely loved it, and I loved her lifting her delicate toddler feet so I could rub her soles.

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(You’d ache to rub the feet belonging to this face too, right Homebrew Talk?)

I’m just on the other end of a rare minor cold that still prevented any iota of exercise completion for a little over a week. Consequently, I’m not able to particularly perk up in the morning. Even pursuing a steady dose of a caffeine elixir, I’ve been ready to sleep standing for a couple days now. Today was especially grueling despite eight hours of mediocre sleep. I’ve been opting for hot tea for the past week or so. I’m thankful I thought to buy a few cans of evaporated milk during our weekend’s grocery jaunt. A creamy tea makes things just a little more special, which is ideal when my body does not.

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(It isn’t a unicorn, but I bet you feel more special now too, thanks, Scary Mommy!)

Mr. Man slept until a bit after eight, and he wasn’t even sick…anymore. That was lovely. I decided to try for our frequented library music program. My parents joined, which allowed me to peruse their used books on sale for a steal. There’s no rhyme or reason to the pricing…I bought eight books for three dollars; sometimes it’s five dollars for a few stories less. But, whatever, I’m able to pick-up some tales I wouldn’t think of otherwise. Today there were two with amazing illustrations, and the stories weren’t horrible. I’m a sucker for beautiful artwork, especially in children’s books. I managed one or two with somewhat of a diversity component. Such things are horribly difficult to find. Little Man enjoyed the parachute, shaking the material at the border with the adults. He usually begs to leave early when my parents join, but not today. He asked, but was easily convinced to remain; he seemed glad he did.

Little Man mostly played well in the kid area after the program. He’s moderately obsessed with trains these days. For a beat or two explained to a younger boy how one might go about playing with a train set…the young toddler a fraction of my son’s tall expanse was rapt. Other children flocked to the table as his play progressed. Suddenly my son swishes the large procession of mismatched train cars into a bin. Other children were waiting to have their turn with them, but he was finished and cleaned after himself…I should note he doesn’t do such crazy things as picking up after himself at home.

Warrior Queen took a three hour nap…Mr. Man did not nap at all. Apparently, he can open the gate upstairs, preventing him from descending down to the lower level of our home. He kept leaving his room throughout the two hour span of “quiet time,” but never unlatched the gate to journey downstairs until it had been almost exactly two hours. I’m grateful quiet time was:

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(It still stinks, but there was no one around to pilfer my chocolate!)

rather than:

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 (Pinterest knows all about unobstructed children not napping.)

In between threats, I managed to accomplish some of what I hoped. I called my Senators and Representative about one obnoxiously almost infinitesimal fraction of the latest bit of horrible from our country’s “leadership.” I’ve also managed to find a couple of organizations that allow me to take part in this multi-pronged voter suppression issue from home. There is so, so, SO much stuff to focus on that I worry no attention is shining on hordes of people denied information and access about the election process at every level and their constitutional right to vote. Most of what I do isn’t particularly glamorous, but it’s important. Also important that I want my children to be socially and politically conscious, meaning I needed to step up my game…big time. Interestingly, it’s kinda addicting. Feeling like I’m part of my government…my country; taking action to make things better for those who’ve struggled for too long, in part, because of my complacency. But, my surge of participation and engagement gives me control…allows me feel another layer of purpose. I highly recommend it to others. Start small, call your state and federal congressional officials. You won’t regret it!

As I concluded the most recent of my frequent calls to my Representative, Mr. Man managed to appear downstairs without waking his sister, so we were able to spend some sweet time together. His latest thing is giving me kisses, and I love it. We shared my special popcorn, which consists of an olive oil spray coating with parmesan cheese sprinkled throughout. My son was doting on me, insisting that he periodically feed me pieces WITHOUT placing them on his tongue first. We read some of the new stories I purchased, built some towers. Little Man laughed and smiled in his glorious way. He snuggled the way he does best. I absolutely loved it. My growing boy helped me tidy, beaming as he uttered his desire to help me. He enjoys feeling helpful, and I adore watching the pride in his stature when I remember to assign him tasks. These days he itches to help me cook. I’ve started creating benign steps, so he can assist. A side note, I fantasize about the day when I can cook with my children.

Warrior Queen woke an hour after her brother. Retrieving her from upstairs, speckling her neck in whispered kisses…naturally she giggled. The remaining pieces of the afternoon and evening deteriorating slightly as the children grew tired, but I certainly won’t complain. After all, nothing is always perfect, but the good moments certainly are.

Quenching a Dynamic Burn

This is an older post put–off for more pleasant topics. Consequently, the tenses and timing are off, and perhaps a disjointed read in parts; but the message is important:

In social work there is specific discussion of work exhaustion. It’s essentially occupation burn-out, and rampant in human service fields like education. It’s different from simply having too many things to do for too long. In social work it is the extra emotional burden of heaviness…carrying another’s struggles on or as your own struggles. I’ve never been interested in clinical work, my work tangent to the field is more macro and policy oriented. Generally, I tend to shut-down the emotional toil reciprocity. I’m not quite sure how I do it, but it’s a specific advantage, especially in the professional area I gravitate toward.

I didn’t read the story, but recently there was some article in one of my social media feeds that mentioned parenting burn-out. Maybe it was specific to mothers…or stay-at-home mothers like me. I can’t really remember, but I recall accepting the plausibility. At the time I felt fortunate not really experiencing such a thing in my own parenting ramblings.

Periodically I feel overwhelmed, but usually it’s something separate from the continuous act of parenting itself. Recently, however, I felt the exhaustion that leaves a distinct impression beyond a tiring day. There has been so much on my mind for the last month, really. Several things not appropriate for mass consumption of this blog…it’s why I have friends. I weathered my mind’s chaos of that time, but this was different. I wasn’t inclined to create a post, but I wonder if having such sentiments public when the details are within the realm of my public persona comfort level is helpful…to someone.

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(Saatchi Art understands how to find the beauty amidst unforgiving turmoil.)

Perhaps surprising because of the nature of blogging, but I’m quite private with many aspects of my life. I’m selective with what I share and to whom. But, there are elements of unnecessary taboo within every stage of parenting…or trying to become a parent. It’s a shame because so much is so common, but often undiscussed unless a brave soul breaches the needless silence. I came to such a realization when I was told during my first Ob-Gyn appointment with Little Man that I would certainly lose his pregnancy. It’s impossible to effectively communicate the pain such news inflicts. I’ve felt it with every loss I’ve succumbed, regardless of how early in the pregnancy. Allowing the stories to breathe was the only way I managed. All of it…pregnancy…parenting…It isn’t a shame, and that’s the point. I’m still learning. I’m still private. Stigma is very real. Maybe one day I’ll be braver than I am, but for now my hope is someone reads these words and feels home within themselves. Even if I never know for sure, the possibility is worth the risk of possible backlash.

The past month there is an element of vacillating between stuck and drowning in endless stuff. I don’t like Little Man watching television, but he has been all summer…for various reasons. Two hours in the evening; one evening I’m listening to him giggling and talking to a hideously stupid cartoon that makes my skin crawl with its banality and sheer idiocy. It’s the price of accessing my outlets that hold their feeble wall against barreled waves colliding into me for months now. When one tidal recedes, something new and different hits, and I’m in the process or ruminations once again trying to understand events and process…things.

Some I won’t discuss in this forum, but the general struggle is ongoing. I’ve become better at managing specific predictable, consistent issues. This round I’ve been more proactive with what I can anticipate, and in many ways I’ve been successful alleviating emotional burden. There are many good things I do outside of childcare, but it’s almost always squirreled in stolen minutes. This summer I committed to a weekly activity away from home that I knew would breathe life into me in ways I forgot I missed. In many respects I’ve had to forget my pre-children identity as a coping mechanism to manage the unavoidable grief of how I’ve always understood myself to be.

When my son was first born it felt very much in a holding pattern. Professionally, even as a manager, I’d be lucky to break even with exceptionally awing childcare expenses…It’s fairly recently I’ve been able to accept that morsel. Perhaps because it seemed unsurmountable at the time that I wasn’t able to acknowledge the very real fact that me working doesn’t make sense at this parenting juncture. With such an issue are the challenges of resume gaps, personal stagnation, parenting penalties…It was an ongoing and reasonable fear of mine for a very long time. Strange to think at this point that I’ve mostly overcome the most glaring obstacles. I wish I were paid, but it’s a vanity. I am able to embrace more skills and fulfilling occupations than a token paycheck in itself would provide. It hasn’t escaped me that my personal success in self-preservation is in large part a benefit of privilege. Consequently, part of how I choose to spread my personal wings often focuses on combatting systemic barriers others face. Such things aren’t particularly new for me, but with such limited time I’ve become more focused in my efforts…weighing the things I believe have greater impact with the scant free moments I muster.

I have many personal/professional efforts occurring simultaneously aside from my writing pursuits. But, my actions are almost entirely keystrokes and electronic exchanges. Summers can be especially grueling for me, so at the beginning of bathing suit season I committed a specific prioritized effort to volunteer away from my computer. Summer is the rare consistent time I have a child care option because my parents visit for a good stretch. It isn’t a perfect situation. The setbacks become a struggle of adjusting and organizing additional routine involvements, as well as the effect such disruptions and perpetual excitement have on my children’s functioning. I’m oversimplifying the issue, but the specifics don’t really matter in the context of this blog. All of this isn’t a complaint, per se…although it sounds so. It’s a complication that is lunacy to ignore…I’ve tried, and the effect has a significantly more negative impact on all parties. In every arena I encountered, fairing better during challenging times has more to do with preparation and strategy than dismissal and denial. It’s funny how that works…

To circle back to this summer, among other things I’m skilled at writing curricula…developing programs. The programs I create or embellish for the Department of Corrections have earned me the seeds of a reputation that might help me further on if I nurture it. One such program is a creative writing workshop. It’s three units spanning nine sessions that primarily focus on literary devices as a tool for expanding personal expression for individuals, among other issues, lack background knowledge most society takes for granted, as well as a specific deficit of risk taking in a classroom setting. In order to have this program approved without a formal agency endorsement, I used my reputation as an in for a couple of administrators; one responded to my email in a timely manner…the one I expected, actually. I’ve been teaching my creative writing class at our maximum security prison since the onset of the summer. It’s a spectacular experience in a humbling way.

I have substantial experience working with at-risk and incarcerated adolescents, so I see the progression stepping into a virtually empty, sterile room with glass walls. There are dichotomies occurring in this experience; it’s overwhelming at times. I have no illusions as to what behaviors lead to my students’ incarcerations. I can see the intimidation etched in practiced perfection the first moment they sat before me. It’s a dazed glare, a drilled unreadable scowl; it’s truly terrifying. I’d forgotten that first moment from when I taught reading in one of our medium facilities almost ten years ago.

But, there is something truly remarkable witnessing the wave of interest in the class content shift. One by one surprising things poke, and hardened stares of aggression soften into a childlike vulnerability and innocence. It becomes the new landscape for the class, and I almost forget where I am…almost. Honestly, it’s tragic and I can’t help but consider all those missed opportunities because a maximum facility prison was not the first step, rather just another in a series of rocky freefalls where no one and everyone are to blame. I knew to expect this. I needed this experience, and I’m glad after many failures to reenter this path, I could feel the complexity of this…situation again.

As objectively successful this class has been, I feel insecure about my performance…always hoping to be better…It’s my shtick…or one of them. As much as vague displeasure or fault I find with this piece or another, taking up this teaching opportunity has grounded me in expected ways. I’m thankful for my one morning a week, and will miss this during my fall and winter hiatus.

That said, as much as I return to my children renewed in some ways, it’s challenging to return home. Little Man and Warrior Queen are mostly fine these days spending the time with Nana and Papa, but they aren’t particularly settled when I return. I frequently mention that I’m an exceptional disciplinarian…for better or worse; consequently, my children behave best when it’s only our roving threesome. There is a marked difference when I’m not around, so returning to the subtle…and sometimes not so subtle changes…is unpleasant for me to witness. Returning from the prison isn’t such an issue, as I’m not absent for too much of a span, but even with my brief space vacancy my children often cling to me as soon as I enter from the garage…requiring some part of their body to grab hold of me. Such things I find disturbing, and I wonder if I’ve done something wrong for my brief absence to have such an impact. Don’t get me wrong; I love a good, hard snugglefest as the next Mommy. Some day the experience will be a phantom in my life, and I will ache in profound ways. But, I perceive this behavior as a response to excessive displeasure that I’m away. That’s a challenge to endure, but not enough to miss my class…I recognize it’s not a novel challenge for parents, but novel to me.

I’m planning ahead. I require various classes for license renewal, and this summer was an opportune time to fulfill all of my social work continuing education for this cycle. It’s only three full days dispersed throughout the summer, but they’ve inexplicably been the most challenging for me, as so many routines are out of my hands. When I return home in time to prepare dinner, I step into the fall-out of askew naps and simply a different day for my children. There is nothing inherently horrible or wrong about such things. It’s good for my kids, but I feel endless guilt that my children are likely misbehaving under my parents’ care…as happens when routines and caregivers shift. Usually within a couple hours away from my typical childcare hustle and bustle, I feel my skin crawl and my mind begin to wander. Guilt begins its press, and I start planning my exit. It all has to be neurotic. I’m vaguely aware it’s typical speaking to my Mommy friends first returning to the work force.

Just as Little Man is sensitive to routine shifts, so am I. It took returning to a normal day to remember that I haven’t had “normal” for several weeks. Emotionally I’m not at my best at the moment. I’m in a constant state of worry overload; I should have stopped trying organize everyone else…appease everyone else with an agreeable schedule. I likely would have saved myself some of the grief in the past couple weeks and enjoyed some of my rare adult time if I prioritized the need to experience what has become a bland, yet fine tuned typical day for our threesome.

Several things had seeped into my consciousness draining my reserves, but the confirmation of the foreboding I felt for weeks…that a good friend was significantly hurt should have pushed me to simplify…not expand…everything. Two brain bleeds hindering his ability to communicate, but I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I’ve certainly had vivid dreams of his condition…waking to a jaw clenched for the duration of the night. I wish he was my only friend fallen on a hard stretch; he’s just the latest one. I haven’t adjusted to the feel of his situation yet…found a groove to support him and care for myself simultaneously. And, just when I find my balance, something wonderful happens that this one friend would particularly delight hearing, but I can’t share the news; I grieve it in unreachable places. The success laced with a slight bitter edge making celebration a challenge to fully embrace.

I’d dreaded a day with no formal plans…loose ends…too many things requiring attention, even if I had help with some of it. Abruptly I was forced into a forgotten typical day, and even though I woke exhausted and uneasy, afternoon I blossomed into a surprisingly invigorated state…or as refreshed as possible with so much weight…so much to consider and to push through. But, it was a better day…my children felt it too.

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(Amy Whitehouse Paintings knows no calm is ever perfect.)

I don’t like droning about hardships; this was a difficult post to write. I questioned publishing it. But, the lesson I take from this challenging time that certainly won’t be the last: simplify. I get lost with pleasing others…worrying for and feeling helpless about others until it consumes me; that likely won’t stop. It’s who I am, and I’ve developed strategies. But, sometimes I forget key interventions like my time with my children in its most basic and lackluster form. I think I forget from fear. I’m bombarded with the peanut gallery celebrating having help for the summer that I internalize the importance of help. But, forced to return to my way I’m reminded of precisely how powerful I am when I remember the basic things I need to feel like myself.

I don’t know if or when my friend who was a key, like minded voice in my life will be able to really talk to me again. There is a whole bunch more I can’t predict or control. I don’t know if my prison class attendance will drop-off even more, and I’m forced to cancel the remaining scant classes, having to wait almost an entire year to experience this specific avenue of my work again…for another chance to improve. My children are surrounded by so much love that they don’t know what to do with it at times; obviously that’s a good thing…even when it isn’t a good thing. We all reset when I provide the opportunity to do so, and I need to remember that very thing when I’m spinning off my axis. Because at the tail end of a typical day, I wasn’t spinning. I ate a wonderful cookie following an actual lunch not scarfed in between obligations. I consumed the iced caffeine I love so much, but more than the wakeful perk I enjoyed the drink for itself…sipped and savored over the course of a couple of hours. And, the next wave will inevitably rush forward attempting to sweep me off my balance. I’m sure I will let it, but there are always solid fixtures to grab. I only need to remember to open my eyes.

But, the Mosquito’s Dead

I often describe touching moments with my children…surprising events…cute, funny things I want to remember always once they are too old to touch me in these young ways.

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(Pinterest clearly understands gloating my precious family moments.)

Today, however, was not such a day, and I’m torn between wanting to deny this day’s very existence, or write about it hoping I won’t continue to be ripped once I’m finally able to sink into the oblivion I’ve been chasing for hours.

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(Why yes, Ranker, you captured the day’s family portrait perfectly!)

It’s a challenging time of year. My parents are here for the summer, making Little Man a perpetual buzz of excitement, and Warrior Queen intermittently disgruntled because someone else will be holding her, yet I have not compensated for the Mommy time deficit. Days that are only the three of us usually leave me craving some type of documentation that I seldom have time to produce these days.

The immediate morning was an omen, and frankly I knew I was in trouble when feeling an unwavering impulse to give Mr. Man to a circus if I thought they’d want him.

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(If everyone in Wikipedia’s picture was prancing around in a diaper, this would be our family room.)

I assumed the stars would align because I completed five minutes past my general morning exercise goal…It was a horrifyingly sad tease, and I’m still kind of bitter about it.

I figured if we managed to shuttle out to the library music program we regularly attend, things would be fine…per my usual experience with a hyper, silly preschooler. Warrior Queen was disgruntled from the get-go because, of course, she was. I’ve been giving her unending carrots and crackers because they are the only things that have made her disposition tolerable for days now. She might be teething…she might have to take a dump…or she might just be fucking with me in a twisted competition with her brother on who can behave like the biggest douche face in a single day…It’s a toss up, and I seriously considered efforts to convince both children that it’s time to go to sleep for the night…at ten in the morning.

My parents met us for the program. I receive copious comments on the wondrous nature of having help for the summer. I enjoy seeing my parents, but days like today as a prime example of the annoying difficulty containing the boisterosity I encounter leave feelings of nostalgia for when I go at things alone. Threenager was throwing hard, solid plastic egg shakers in the air…because nothing bad can happen with that decision.

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(Pinterest knew our attendance was a hit at the program.)

Fifteen-month-old Warrior Queen decides this is the one time she isn’t interested in a tether to my lap. She was on the perpetual move by any means necessary to achieve escape.

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(Dreamstime.com saw Warrior Queen’s reaction to any attempt at corralling the impulse of adventure.)

Thirty seconds transpired when both children nuzzled me in the most wonderfully snuggle infused touching way…It wasn’t enough. It’s almost time to go to sleep, and I still feel I need to beat my head against a wall to make the pain of this day evaporate into a good night’s sleep.

I invited a couple of friends over after the music program. One friend is a regular, so we both knew Little Man would likely make both boys cry throughout the visit…I still can’t believe they step into our home willingly. But, my other friend was new to the experience, and Mr. Man did not disappoint. There were moments seeing both boys play, her son with giddy smiles…until my husband’s demon spawn caused the little boy to clunk his head on our wood floor in some wincing way. The other two boys remained on their Mommy’s lap the entire span of the Thunderdome experience…their crying was minimal; a blessed paltry miracle perhaps?

Despite three removals upstairs for a good chunk of time, my son absolutely could not contain his excitement at having visitors.

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(“I. said. MOVE!”)

The most maddening aspect of what occurred today is that my son is mostly well behaved, sweet, and so considerate when we are out, at other people’s houses, whatever. When people come over, this type of thing happens every time. He simply cannot manage. It isn’t just the issue with sharing, which is also a problem. Little Man is entirely too rough. He thinks he’s playing, but the other children are usually overwhelmed. Unfortunately, most of the time I host at my house. My friends indicate their boys of similar age to Little Man have almost identical navigations with friends in their own domain. I continue to apologize well after awkwardness should set in…thank goodness for text. My first-timer friend texted me when she arrived home; her son said he had a great time. I commented that I think he hurt his head more than she thought.

My son continued to vibrate in jumping, clumsy giggles until I almost sprouted exploding snakes from my head, sending him to quiet time thirty minutes early.

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(Okay, Pinterest, your accuracy is getting a tad unsettling…)

He passed-out immediately…so did Warrior Queen who had mostly been fine with such a full house…probably because I’m phasing out her bottle. The only time she can partake is at noon until she goes down for the afternoon nap. Realizing today that it seems I’ve reached the threshold of her mostly losing interest in her bottle. Most the day I urge a sippy cup. Today she was actually receptive to the cup and dawdled with the bottle, not drinking from the bottle and continually dropping it. The only reason I maintain this narrow window is that she had been consuming sixteen ounces of milk in two hours. As of today that consumption sharply diminished. It seems that after this week there will be no more bottles for Warrior Queen. I’m relieved and a little sad about this transition for absolutely stupid reasons. But, I digress…

Kids asleep; the house was mine…MINE!

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(A situation so special I’d shave for it…possibly even above the knee!)

I finished my well earned remainder of my exercise routine while reading my smut. Improving sleep and concentration, I had been returning to my more high brow classical and impressive nonfiction selections, but not today, my friends. Today I’m lucky if my thoughts are coherent enough to use a more extensive vocabulary than “fuckity fuckface.”

Occasionally my son and daughter sleep three hours. It happens regularly enough that it isn’t a pipe dream…unless I’m having a craptastic day. In such cases I should rejoice they make it the reliable two hours without some random insect removal or lawn company ringing the doorbell, subsequently disturbing two pristinely napping children. I bitterly celebrated when Mr. Man lasted exactly two hours…Warrior Queen an additional fifteen minutes…because she actually loves her mother.

Mr. Man continued to behave like I dusted all of his food in PCP until well into the evening. Naturally this would be the very rare evening my husband needed to work late.

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(Channel the flowers…CHANNEL THE FUCKING FLOWERS, JUSTINSONMIA…woosah!)

I’m fairly certain my children had dinner. I’m also fairly certain that I did not…unless you count the glass I’d been chewing every time I attempted to take a sip of water. The entirety of the evening spent with my son head-butting, kicking, and tackling his sister; jamming his fingers in my face (I’m not entirely sure where his fingers have even been, but I’m trying to push that query aside.), and dismantling our sectional sofa by dislodging every conceivable pillow into a random pillow henge around our family room.

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(History.com knows what it looks like when you stop caring.)

Such an array of padding came in handy when he continually launched himself into impressive swan sprawls into the air.

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(You guessed it, Pinterest…I feel like I have my own Mommy-House photographer documenting my entire day…)

His sister delighted jumping on the sofa springs, which was fine by me because she’d been unpleasant unless she was on my lap ingesting a cracker…There had better be an arrival of a new tooth come morning…

I somehow managed to bathe both children. It goes without saying the bathroom flooded, but not as terribly as it could have been. I’ll go ahead and call that a win. My husband eventually making the grandest entrance any spouse could possibly conceive, which consisted of him just showing up.

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(Something like that, thanks, 98.5.)

Soon after my husband’s arrival home I shepherded Warrior Queen to her shut-eye. She was ready for the day to conclude as well.

I finally managed to eat dinner entirely too late, and hanger, my friends, is real; I’m becoming frightfully familiar with the such a state of being these days. While the omelet wasn’t as aesthetically pleasing as my random and absurd perfectionistic compulsion prefers, it was mighty tasty and contained cheese. But, the highlight of the day, hands down, was that damn mosquito I crushed with one artful hand clap before I was bitten. So, with my bloodlust quenched in a surprisingly gratifying way, I reflected on a day that, all things considered, wasn’t too bad.

The Terrible Awful in Me, and Otherwise

I’m a terrible person; harsh, unforgiving, and cruel.  With gusto I will kick and stomp when someone is down, and award myself with notions of strength after I’ve accomplished just such a feat.  That someone is me.

I’m on the tail end of a fairly nasty nose cold.  I catch roughly a quarter of the plagues that befall my home, but when I am part of the befallen, it’s usually some degree of a doozy.  I don’t usually whine about being sick, so if I’m actually articulating misery with this type of thing, safe to say it’s probably pretty bad.

The first couple days of my cold were quite mild, so I deceived myself that I would be annoyed for a week, but my life would proceed as planned.  Maybe I would be grumpier than usual, but since Warrior Queen was also sick and waking up a bit at night, I probably wouldn’t receive too much blame for an edge in my cadence.  But, my colds are never mild.  I continued to tell myself I was experiencing a hint of sick even when a truck hit me in the early evening, leaving my eyes leaking tears from exhaustion, a blocked and vaguely pained ear, nausea, and headache.  My son woke from his nap, and I had not prepared dinner.  I stood at our kitchen counter frozen with slumped shoulders, unable to drape fish in a tray so the oven could do all the heavy lifting.  A rational person would say, “Man, I’m seriously sick.  Maybe I should sit.”  If a friend described the very scenario I was experiencing, I would tell them to sit and let their toddler burn down the house.  Hell, if the woman I encountered weeks ago or the person parked next to me at the mall described these events, I’d tell them to sit and grab a beverage…maybe some chocolate.

I berated myself for having to feed my son a serving of our plentiful leftovers.  He told me the lentil dish I served him was, “Delicious,” before eating two helpings, by the way, so why was it necessary to mommy guilt myself that the cod would remain in the refrigerator one more day?  I feel pretty confident the dead fish wouldn’t be insulted, and I was too sick to taste anything anyway.  My son clearly didn’t care, and my husband is always happy that he didn’t have to cook.

I’m proud to say much of the time I accept I’m not perfect…at anything.  Most days I even broadcast such news and events to anyone within close proximity.  The result is a shared laugh because so many of the trials of parenthood are strangely and wonderfully universal.  Having children allows me to welcome my imperfections, and laugh at the ride.  I don’t take myself quite so seriously anymore, but this critical piece of me continues to exist, taking full advantage when I am at my weakest.  And, she joins forces with my malleable and expansive imagination that possesses no loyalty either way.

After a grueling forty-eight hours of wakefulness, I managed a good night’s sleep.  Feeling significantly better and reasonably well rested, my equilibrium is returning.  I can laugh at myself again and reflect on my unreasonable chastise of my parenting performance and scrutiny over my general life tenacity.  What did I learn?  My children and I are at our best when I consider myself as worthy of kindness, attention, and nurturing…and chocolate has magical properties that can never be dismissed or minimized…

Fairly Aggressive, Not All that Passive

My two-year-old son is a seasoned professional in the sleep regression field, but seems to be starting his transition back to his reliable snooze during the day.  I say this cautiously, as today was the first day in almost two weeks when he napped.  It wasn’t enough to spare me from an odd mix of sweetly clingy and dismally cranky, with a side of impulsive destruction as the late afternoon progressed into evening, but I’ll take it.

There are all kinds of reasons for sleep regression specific to this age, but Mr. Man’s brand is concern for missing out on Mommy time.  If I weren’t so tired, this would be endearing.  The genesis of this problem is my fault, really.  A combination of me assuming a toddler equates an oblivious human, and his delayed speech pressing me to forget exactly how finely attuned his receptive language is, prompted me to lament to anyone who would listen on the phone how the Warrior Queen spent the duration of Little Man’s nap sleeping on me for several days in a row.  The fateful afternoon in question began his naptime with my son waiting in his crib while I trekked downstairs to retrieve his disgusting bacteria and disease carrying stuffed dog, as well as my wailing daughter.  He screamed, “Baby! Baby!” repeatedly between fits of tears once I returned with her nestled in my arms.  That was it.  He hasn’t taken a nap since despite his blatant need for some shut-eye.  Seriously, two months of night time feedings didn’t have me looking as tired and ragged as Little Man during the past couple weeks.  Today he napped, a paltry forty-five minutes, but it’s a start, and hopefully a sign of what’s to come…for everyone’s sanity.

But, today I waited too long to retrieve my son from his crib.  The process of sleep training my son, and my daughter intermittently requiring me to hold her for significant durations throughout my son’s “quiet time,” left me getting little done and having almost no break in the last couple weeks.  So, I took it upon myself to enjoy a lovely piece…or two…okay, four…of my favorite dark chocolate hazelnut bar while my daughter actually slept without me needing to intervene.  My son was awake and standing, but if he suspected I had chocolate, he’d climb my face to get to it…not even kidding.  My delay consequently, had me pay the piper once I retrieved him.  Not only did he become suddenly upset between the thirty seconds it took me to clean every ounce of chocolate off of my fingers and reach his door, but then my daughter began passionately screaming downstairs as I pulled him up.

In the six weeks since my parents left, I’ve become a bit of an aficionado at managing situations when at least one of the three of us is unhappy.  Warrior Queen needed to eat, and I needed Conan the Destroyer to chill until I could satiate my daughter well enough to reasonably tend to him.  Maybe cartoons work for some parents.  I haven’t used that piece of potential arsenal yet, but Mr. Man loves watching home recordings of himself as a baby.  He’s also rather partial to his sister’s first bath video; it’s usually first on the viewing docket.

The home movies worked their magic for a bit.  My daughter was able to chug a good amount of her formula.  My son was entertained with videos of him laughing at the wind through the leaves when he was six-months-old, but then he decided to attempt calling Guam, reaching past my computer for our home phone.  Movies done; my daughter notsomuch.

The next intervention for a generally disquieted Mr. Man following an insufficient rest works about half the time.  Usually not when I’m in the middle of tending to his sister, but it’s easy enough to try.  I enthusiastically offer to read him a story.  Surprisingly, Little Man scampers off to the other room, and I hear him retrieving items from the appropriate shelf.  He wastes no time returning, laying a book in front of me while his sister continues to inhale the contents of her bottle.  I hadn’t read this specific story to him since I was pregnant, but I guess he had a yen for, You Were the First.

The Simple Truths of a Cover Girl

There are certain things I do as maintenance, which is my code for small physical upkeep that consists of vanquishing Bubbe from the old country by waxing my eyebrows and mustache or clipping my toe and fingernails.  If I manage a haircut before it becomes reminiscent of a shag carpet that’s been trampled upon for decades, so much the better.

I’m not particularly vain, but I don’t like to look horrible either.  Sometimes it’s a struggle to feel good; the weeks I’ve been experiencing as of late with a relentless cycle of tenacious, albeit relatively mild, illness reminds me of that.  Mommyhood is hard in simultaneously trite and inexplicable ways; the grind easily apparent on my face from time-to-time.  Exceedingly sensitive skin interferes with my ability to wear make-up, so a sleepless night or two becomes the following day’s black luggage.  With all the pleasure and joys the experience of primary caregiving brings, it saddens me that the toll becomes more perceptible to the world than the better person I’ve become from this new life.  And, while I am not necessarily concerned about judgment, I’m not comfortable that the struggles might be more obvious to the world than the peace and beauty of my experiences.

Since my son was born almost two years ago, I think back to what helped pull me through the initial consumption quagmire of his external life, knowing this will be my reality once again in a few scant months.  I’m sure I should say that the blessing of my beautiful newborn son carried me through sleep deprivation and other jarringly unpleasant conditions; the pressure of such expected jubilations are an undercurrent to part of the harsh reality for a mother caring for an infant in the first months.  On some level combustible joy exists, but on many others a cloud of regret and fear hovers not all that far off.

But, perhaps oddly, when my hair was fixed and my nails were short just the way I like them; when my lip and eyebrows are waxed, and the most alluring aspects of my shadowed, sleep deprived complexion; I feel a certain strength and loveliness about the pulls of the experience.  There are other important efforts for my self-care that are pivotal in my enjoyment of my Mommydom journey, but these simple, controllable pleasures are profound constants for me.

Introduction: The Competing Mommies in All of Us

I have been a mom for almost a year, which opened me to a world that feels hidden beneath the surface of every family with children. The first three months were isolating with intense bouts of loneliness mingled with fatigue, but that passed. I decided early on, before my son was born, that I would not be a stay-at-home mom, yet a year later that is exactly what I am. I came to two conclusions on this matter: 1) I truly enjoy spending time with him and 2) I’m not a strong enough person for the full-time, ongoing commitment.

Soon after I delivered I was offered an opportunity to be a private education consultant, which has been a slow start. The eventual prospect helps maintain a sometimes thinly veiled sanity, but on the positive end, I have a deep understanding of an aspect of society I was too afraid to face had I the option to avoid it.

Speaking to the so many other new moms and organizing a new mom social group, I learned the need to surround myself by things that make me happy as an individual, which is a surprisingly challenging concept raising an infant day in and day out. Thinking of writing a blog for a long time, as writing makes me happy, but procrastinating another avenue offering me peace of mind at times when I vacillate between feeling the need for baring a superhero emblem and hiding in a corner with the hope that Fear and his brother Incompetence do not have sufficient tracking skills to find me in the closet behind the shoes I’ve collected over the years, but can no longer wear after pregnancy.

So, it’s almost a year later, and in a moment of clarity I added to my short list of happiness and peace that is selfishly for me. I’ve become intermittently proficient at staying in the moment and enjoying the now, one of the many lessons I learned this year, along with: My son will only provide his fountain of youth on days when I managed to throw together a really cute ensemble right before heading out the door. I try not to live in the land of “wishes and should haves” because then I focus on, “Why haven’t I been documenting this life changing event all along?” I don’t want to focus on this regret because my journey is just beginning, so why catch-up when there are always new stories to tell?

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